Mike Paros is a professor of biological and environmental science at The Evergreen State College. For more information on, or to help with, the research project described below, click here.
I am often asked about the current state of affairs at The Evergreen State College since student protests in May of 2017 cast this obscure experimental liberal arts college into the limelight with the likes of Yale, Middlebury, and Berkeley, and catapulted former Evergreen professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying into the “Intellectual Dark Web”.
On a personal note, I am doing well despite a past public condemnation of the current president’s handling of student protesters and former colleague Weinstein. As the only remaining Evergreen professor who is a member of HxA, I have found refuge with like-minded academics that share a wariness of like-minded academics.
In fact, although I am a professor of biology and environmental sciences, I was moved to develop a program called “A Liberal Education in the College Bubble,” which I will be teaching this fall. It embodies the spirit of HxA while utilizing readings, tools, and techniques developed by our members and the newly developed OpenMind platform. And I’m pleased to report that the class is full, despite catastrophic drops in enrollment that has resulted in massive layoffs of Evergreen faculty and staff.
This fall, we expect less than 300 freshmen to attend Evergreen, a fifty percent drop from two years ago. It is the only four year institution in the state of Washington that has seen a decrease in applications, and is currently publicly funded for 4200 students, far greater than this year’s anticipated total attending class of 2800.
Editors note: A representative for The Evergreen State college has reached out with an update on anticipated enrollments. They expect around 350 freshmen to attend in the fall. Also, they expect 3000- 3100 total full-time enrolled students in 2018 (out of the 4,200 they are funded for). While both of these numbers do represent significant decreases as compared to before the 2017 unrest, they are marginally less bleak than Dr. Paros’ estimates, which were based on earlier information. These are still just estimates, however. The official enrollments for Fall 2018 will not be determined until after the 10th day of enrollment.
Advocacy and activism rather than the pursuit of truth and knowledge is being promoted as a way of recruiting desperately needed new students (In 2011 Evergreen changed its official mission statement to read: “Evergreen supports and benefits from a local and global commitment to social justice”). Bringing in new faculty or guest speakers with conservative or centrist political perspectives is considered risky and out of the question at the moment. Fear and self-censorship is pervasive among Evergreen faculty, especially under the existing budget crisis. An “independent” External Review Panel exonerated the president and administrators while blaming Evergreen’s woes on Bret Weinstein and ‘alt-right’ agitators prompted one journalist to ask, “Who Will the Evergreen Mob Target Next?”
In the meantime, I need help on a research study that might be of great interest to HxA members.
A Call for Participants
Colleges and universities across the country are implementing policies intended to protect students from content deemed emotionally harmful. Common safeguard measures include disinviting controversial speakers, rules against ‘microaggressions’, and the use of ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe spaces’. While student opinions of such policies regarding censorship and campus free expression have been assessed, the source of variation among these attitudes has not been investigated.
One hypothesis put forward is that generational differences in parenting styles may partially explain these differences. More specifically, it has been suggested that the rise of ‘overparenting’ (aka ‘helicopter parenting’) has contributed to an overall lack of student resilience, personal accountability, and collective sense of victimhood. This in turn, may lead to support for structures that shield students from ideas and perspectives they view as offensive and psychologically damaging. We seek to empirically examine the proposed connection between parenting style, a self-image of victimization, and political intolerance by sampling U.S. college students and their parents.
Evergreen is a small school, and our current campus climate makes it difficult to recruit the number of students (and their parents) needed to take the short (ten minutes) online survey that we have developed.
A brief email to your students asking them to participate would be immensely helpful for the project. I have set up a landing page with a link to the student survey, and some more information — including the letter from the Western Institutional Research Board showing our IRB-exempt status — here (https://sites.evergreen.edu/callforparticipants/).
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have questions or would like more details about the research study. Your help is greatly appreciated.
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